Museum Pathway to the Catacombs

You pull the ring with a tree-shaped plate on the side of the museum display. The floor starts to vibrate with a low rumble. Nothing readily apparent, you look up to the lady at the counter.

"What did I just do?" you ask uncertainly.

She gives you an appraising look before setting her book down and turning her full attention to you. "You just told me you're a curious sentient. Might your curiosities draw you toward lucian theology?"

Your brow furrows. "Lucian?"

A lock of her brunette hair falls from its place on her shoulder as she cocks her head. "Those who believe in the god Lux. He's quite taboo among those who call themselves the Treyan races. Not exactly outlawed, mind you, but certainly not well thought of."
"Why not?" you ask.

"Because Viv, the god the Treyan races worship, claims to have created this world, but Lux asserts he created the entire universe and that Viv is a lowly meion who stole the hearts of this world's sentients from him."

You nod, "That would put a bit of a wedge between their followers."

"Indeed," she agrees, still eyeing you. "So the question is, are you looking for a little theology that goes against the grain?"

A corner of your mouth pulls up in a mischievous smile as you approach the counter. "I hear the beginnings of a good conspiracy," you reply.

The woman looks non-plussed, but she gestures toward a swinging gate at the end of the counter. You step through the sturdy carved piece and follow her nod toward an open door just to your right. A slight creak meets your ears as you push it slightly farther and she instructs, "Take the lantern on that peg and head down the spiral staircase in front of you. The path on your left is just my home."

"Thanks," you say, following her instructions. Your lantern's warm glow takes over as you descend, casting flickers of orange light on the walls. The stairs deposit you into a small study. It features a wooden desk and chair, as well as a wide bookcase and standing unlit candelabra.

You peruse the books on, assuming these must be taboo books on lucian theology, but find a wide variety of subjects represented. One catches your attention, showcasing a golden tree resembling the pull ring's plate back in the museum. Plucking the worn book from its place, you realize it was hiding a small lever. Having come this far, you push it.

The bookcase shudders, kicking up a little dust, and splits down the center, opening inward. You step back in surprise, suppressing a cough. Through the new opening, you can see a dark, rough-hewn tunnel in your lantern's light. Giving the study one last glance, you head down the tunnel. After a short time, it seems to dead end, except another lever is clearly marked with a golden tree. You pull this lever, too.

Stone grates on stone as the dead-end opens inward. Cold, damp air rushes in at you. Beyond the door, you can see a much wider tunnel with a track in its center. An old mineshaft? You step through. The grating resumes behind you and you look back in time to see the wall close seamlessly. You swallow.

Looking around, you find a small gold tree on the far wall with an arrow pointing right. You decide to follow the arrow and keep your eye out for more. Every time the shaft has a turn, you find a golden tree with an arrow pointing the way. To what, you wish you knew; you're beginning to have doubts about that woman in the museum.

Eventually, the shafts give way to caves. The arrows lead you to a cave whose floor gives way to water. Searching for some sign, you spy a boat marked with a golden tree.

You take it, rowing along the cave's path, and your lantern reflects off beautiful speleothems of dripstone, striated flowstone, and waving curtains of mineral deposits, some so thin, they're translucent. When you hold your lantern up, you notice the water has an eerie, but captivating green glow.

Reaching a shoreline, you land your boat beside another like it, and find another golden tree on a lever beside a wall.


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© 2019 Jenari Skye